tonight on "nightline," it is fight night for the vice presidential contenders, as joe biden squares off against paul ryan in a tightening race with only 25 days until the election. did biden make up for president obama's last debate stumble? in the battle of the number twos. know the score. the political heavyweights who helped sarah palin and george w. bush prep for their debates tell us what marks they give the vice presidential contenders for a "nightline" report card. plus, right brain, left brain. could which painting you refer tell which candidate you could vote for? we test the theory that your mind might be made up for you this election. >> announcer: from the global resources of abc news, with terry moran, cynthia mcfadden
and bill weir in new york city, this is a special edition of "nightline," one-on-one, the vice presidential debate. >> good evening, i'm terry moran. tonight, a feisty on-stage showdown as vice president joe biden and his republican challenger paul ryan went head-to-head for the first and only time, with time running short here. the stakes and the tension seemed especially high, you a new polls showing a spike in support of mitt rom near after president obama's stumble in last week's debate. so, here's how it all went down tonight. >> vice president joe biden and congressman paul ryan. >> reporter: from the get-go, this was a sharper, livelier debate. >> if you do harm to america, we will track you to the gates of hell. >> what we are watching is the unraveling of the obama foreign policy. >> reporter: joe biden and paul ryan came ready to rumble. ryan, the intense young gun. biden, the wily elder statesman
who grinned like an old possum as he listened to ryan's attacks. then came right back at him, biden style. >> with all due respect, that's a bunch of mularkey. >> reporter: it got heated. it got testy. >> that's a $3,200 benefit cut. >> that didn't happen. more people signed up. more people signed up for medicare advantage after the change. nobody is -- >> mr. vice president -- >> reporter: and what a contrast. throughout the debate, biden smiled. smirked. grinned and cackled. >> medicare and social security are going bankrupt. >> reporter: ryan was earnest, intense, super see use. and they grappled all night. on the economy, biden unloaded, attacking mitt romney where president obama had not, on that video tape where romney called 47% of the american people victims who won't take responsibility for their lives. >> these people are my mom and dad, the people i grew up with. my neighbors. they pay more effective tax than
governor romney pays on his federal income tax. >> reporter: ryan got personal. >> joe and i are from similar towns. he's from pennsylvania, i'm from wisconsin. you know what the unemployment rate in scranton is today? >> i sure do. >> it's 10%. >> yeah. >> you know what it was the day you guys came in? 8.5%. that's how it's going all around america. >> reporter: for a vice presidential debate, the stakes were high tonight. after mitt romney's big win in denver and president obama's no-show performance there, biden needed to stop the bleeding. ryan was going for the jugular, seeking to build the momentum republicans are feeling. >> the next time you hear them say, don't worry about it, we'll get a few wealthy people to pay their fair share, watch out, middle class. the tax bill is coming to you. >> reporter: there was a stark generation gap on that stage tonight. joe biden, born in 1942, is older than the baby boomers. paul ryan, born in 1970, is younger than the baby boomers. and ryan looks it. today, "time" magazine published
photos taken last year and on newsstands friday of ryan flexing his impressive guns, a backwards baseball cap and ear buds providing fodder for internet admiration and mockery from right and left. the closest biden came to that was this photoshopped parody of the vice president, courtesy of the onion, watching his supposed car, a firebird. on the campaign trail, ryan's brought an eagerness, a snap and crackle that's energized conservatives. ryan's displayed some fire in dealing with the intense media pressure of a national campaign. >> that was kind of strange? >> reporter: and biden? well, biden's been around for a long time. elected in 1972 at 29, survived the tragedy of losing his wife and baby daughter in a car accident before he took office. >> we can always get another senator, but they can't get another father. >> reporter: and he became a
national figure when he scared off against judge robert bork, nominated iffer the supreme court in 1987. >> does the majority have the right to tell a couple that they can't use birth control? >> reporter: that year, biden launched his first bid for the presidency. paul ryan was 17 years old. in 1988, the generation gap in a vice presidential debate led to this famous moment. >> senator, you're no jack kennedy. >> reporter: tonight, in a heated exchange about taxes, an echo of that moment. >> the only way you can find $5 trillion in loopholes, is cut the morning deduction for middle class people. cut the health care deduction for middle class people. take away their ability to get a tax break to send their kids to college. that's why they are -- >> is he wrong about that? >> he is wrong about that. it's been done before. >> it has never been done before. >> a couple of times. >> jack kennedy -- >> oh, now you're jack kennedy. >> ronald reagan --
>> reporter: at the end, each man summed up and both chose to attack. >> my friend says that 30% of the american people are takers. romney points out 47% of the people won't take responsibility. he's talking about my mother and father. talking about the places i grew up, my neighbors. he's talking about, he's talking about the people that built this country. all they're looking for is an even shot. >> president obama, he had his chance. he made his choices. this is not what a real recovery looks like. you deserve better. mitt romney and i want to earn your support. we're offering real reforms for a real recovery for every american. >> at least it was a lot better watch than the romney/obama. meanwhile hashtag mularkey is
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>> announcer: this special edition of "nightline," one-on-one, the vice presidential debate, continues with terry moran. >> time for the "nightline" report card. our experts, nicolle wallace was in sarah palin's corner last time around. donna brazile managed al gore's campaign. matt dowd in george w. bush's corner. it's a report card. we go style substance. first, ryan, style? paul ryan, style? >> a.
>> can plus. >> can. >> so that's a, c-plus, and c for ryan. so, let's go to the easy grade he got. nicolle? >> i thought what ryan had to do tonight was stand toe to toe with joe biden. i thought that was the whole basis for grading him on style. and i thought he closed what was not just a decades long experience gap, but i thought he closed the gravitas gap. >> fire away. >> i think when you look at this style grade, joe biden had to come in with energy and had to come in sort of forceful and he did that. i think paul ryan maintained what he needed to do. i give him a c, but there was no energy in paul ryan's part that made republicans say, wow, i want to go to battle with him. >> tough. he shows up and gives him a c-plus. >> i gave him a c-plus, because i thought he was well rehearsed. but he was stiff. and at times he came across like he was memorizing his lines. and not truly passionate. >> all right.
a wide variety there. joe biden on style? >> i gave him a c. i thought that the eye roll -- oh, we're going to go through -- >> i gave him a b-plus. >> on biden? b. >> b. all right, so, biden's style, c, b-plus and b. >> the eye rolling was his biggest problem. then, he started with the finger wagging and he went after martha raddatz. his voice got much louder. he started screaming and his face started bulging. i thought he looked like my dad does when he watches an obama press conference. ready to throw something at the tv. >> turned you off? >> i thought he was a mess. >> biden got the job done. he was emotional. he connected with the audience on issues that are, quite frankly, emotional. medicare, social security. but i also thought that he was passionate. yeah, he laughed, he smiled, you know, he was joe biden. he loved the day. >> he was joe. >> i -- i'm a very tough a, so, i wasn't going to give probably anybody an a. i think he did exactly what he needed to do.
the democratic base needed to be energied. they needed to be energied with some passion. energized with some really tough fight and he did exactly that. >> and he showed up and did that. let's talk about substance. paul ryan on substance? >> a. >> c. >> c. >> all right, so, paul ryan gets an a, once again. and two cs. why the a? >> you know, i thought that these were two very well prepared candidates and i thought that paul ryan came with all of the ammunition to take the case that ticket is trying to prosecute against obama. and i thought he had his facts in order. i think foreign policy is a place where we haven't seen him do much work. he hasn't launched many political attacks. he hasn't -- this is the heat of a campaign. while things aren't to be politicized, things that take place in the heat of a campaign become political. i thought on libya, he made a very good point in, you know, he got biden to concede that he didn't know that security had been requested in benghazi. >> he was -- >> he had two weeks to come up with an answer for their tax plan.
he didn't have any specifics. got confused on afghanistan. that's a c. >> i agree with donna. he didn't have specifics. every time he was pressed on the facts, martha pressed him and he had no answer for it. >> and he is a wonky guy up there. biden on substance? >> i gave biden a b. >> a. >> b. >> let's go to the bs first. >> i think he came prepared. i thought he was going to do a better job on foreign policy. he did a better job on the economy and bringing the conversation on the middle class. i thought he did a very good job on presenting the economy part of this very well. >> he unloaded on the 47% in a way that obama didn't. >> and in terms of making the best argument for his side, using the passionate arguments about middle class, that is the substance the democrats need to cling to to make their case. >> full of details. he understood the issues. he took the case back to romney/ryan in terms of their programs, their issues and i
think the election now will be reset, once again, because joe biden understood exactly what to do tonight. >> all right, bottom line. winner? >> ryan. >> biden. >> biden. >> and how much does it make a difference? >> stops the bleeding. makes the race stay where it is, which is dead even and sets up a big night that has to happen. raises the stakes for tuesday night. >> okay. >> no rolaids for me tonight. no rolaids. >> thank you all very much. ou all very much.t back. and we'll be right back. so you say men are superior drivers?
yeah. then how'd i get this... [ voice of dennis ] ...safe driving bonus check? every six months without an accident, allstate sends a check. ok. [ voice of dennis ] silence. are you in good hands? nah. [ dennis' voice ] i bet he's got an allstate agent. they can save you up to 30% more by bundling your policies. well his dog's stupid. [ dennis' voice ] poodles are one of the world's smartest breeds. are you in good hands?
could what kind of dog you like or what kind of painting you prefer also indicate who you're going to vote for in this election? one theory says yes, because your brain may actually be hard-wired to make you a democrat or a republican. so, my co-anchor bill weir hit the pavement to put it to the test. >> reporter: take a look at these two paintings. which one do you prefer? which one of these two offices
most resembles your own? and if you were picking out a dog, would you prefer a breed that is gentle, but independent and has a mind of its own or one that is loyal, obedient, easy to train? based on how you answer -- >> i like the top one. >> reporter: top one? >> yeah. >> smaller one. >> mine's the top one. >> reporter: you're the top one? >> social psychologist jonathan hite thinks he has a pretty good idea how you will vote. >> are you conservatives? >> yes. >> reporter: yes? >> yes. >> reporter: yes? >> say yes. >> reporter: because it turns out the conservatives lime jim prefer order in their paintings, pets and work spaces. while left-leaning voters like his wife shannon -- >> there's no denying that. that is him, that is me. >> reporter: not so much. now, this sort of stereotyping can be offensive, at first blush. but professor hite uses them to illustrate where our political differences come from in the first place. he believes that when a baby is born, that little brain contains
a few fundamental moral ingredients. like, empathy, fairness, respect for authority and group loyalty. but as the child grows, both brain chemistry and life experience will make some of those ingredients a lot more important than the others. >> it's not they're born to be liberal or conservative, but as the kids go up, they are going to be all kinds of ideas and social groups and one is maybe a little bit more radical and, you know, obnoxious to authority and that seems really cool to the first kid but disturbing to the second. >> reporter: why is why most people come into election years with minds made up, literally. and events like tonight rarely change them. i think a lot of people, whether they are fox news conservatives or msnbc liberals think, if i just put my argument in the right way, i can win the other side over. >> that's right. >> reporter: that's impossible, though, right? >> because i have put my argument in the right way and they still don't get it, that means they've got ulterior
moti motives. >> dependent. that's what mitt romney called 47% of americans. >> mr. president, let us keep our jobs. we can't afford four more years. >> reporter: problem is, when a political system is broken, when massive fortunes are spent demonizing the other side, it's too easy to forget that a society needs both sloppy artists and uptight soldiers to survive. >> we're all these moralistic creatures who are using our reasoning to support our side. we're not really open to the evidence. and the other side is not evil. the other side doesn't hate america and want to destroy it. both sides are pursuing different moral visions and we need both. >> reporter: we compliment each other. >> absolutely. they really compliment each other. >> reporter: yes, believe it or not, liberal and conservative brains can actually compliment each other. just like jim and shannon. >> you see yourself as
complimentary? >> we're very complimentary. >> that's not what he asked. >> yeah, we do. we do. >> very much so. >> do you have children? >> no. >> a furry dog that's very independent and doesn't mind. we fupd some kids on the street and take hem them. >> reporter: you really are a liberal. but she is a liberal, going home with a conservative. and maybe, if this crazy donkey-elephant hybrid idea spreads wide enough, america will thrive. no matter who wins the election. i'm bill weir for "nightline" in new york city. >> the hard-wired political brain thanks to bill for that. thank you for watching abc news. we hope you check in for "good morning america" where abc's martha raddatz is going to be live with the latest from tonight's faceoff. we're always online at abcnews.com. jimmy kimmel is coming up next. and we'll see you here tomorrow.